Following weeks of confusion surrounding the price of umrah visas, the African National Congress’s (ANC) Western Cape branch this week released a statement affirming the party’s willingness to assist in resolving the matter.
In August this year, media reports surfaced from the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia stating that travellers to the kingdom will be forking out heavy sums to enter the country. Shocking Muslims around the world, the media reports further stated that repeat pilgrims are to pay 2000 Saudi Riyals, effective from Muharram 1, 1438.
Following the news, haj and umrah stakeholders around the world have been tirelessly urging the Kingdom to change the new policy and to provide clarity on the issue.
The Provincial Secretary, Faiez Jacobs was briefed today by the President of the Muslim Judicial Council (MJC).
The ANC Western Cape in its statement said that it has been inundated with requests from across the province, all pleading for clarity.
“The ANC Western Cape has been inundated with Muslims in the province complaining of the proposed massive escalation of Umrah Visa Fees by the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia,” the statement read.
The party asserted that the new prices will greatly impact the pockets of pilgrims, many of whom save for years to afford the journey.
Affirming its willingness to support those impacted by the new prices, the party confirmed that it will explore all avenues in a bid to resolve the matter.
“The ANC will play a vital role to explore options to resolve the concerns emanating from the impending Umrah Visa Fees hike. To this end the ANC Western Cape, if necessary will lobby its NEC and government especially DIRCO to play a constructive role by facilitating and making sure this matter is addressed.”
Meanwhile, monitoring body Hajj Watch voiced its concern at the lack of communication by the Embassy of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia in Pretoria on the issue of the Umrah Visa price hikes.
Speaking to VOC News, Hajj Watch’s Jakes Rawat says that the Saudi Embassy needs to provide Muslims with clarity on the new prices, which he asserts is unreasonable.
“There has been conflicting reports coming out of the press and its created confusion. We believe that the Muslim community cannot adhere to those costs, because they are exorbitant,” Rawat added.
He further confirmed that the body is not calling for a boycott of the pilgrimage, stating that performing pilgrimage is a personal matter between an individual and the Creator.